Bob Jordan, formerly Southwest's executive vice president and chief commercial officer, took over as the carrier's chief executive on Tuesday. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Southwest Airlines veteran Bob Jordan has taken over as the carrier's new chief executive, and says he wants to put his 34 years of experience to use at one of its most challenging times.
In a letter to employees on his first day in the job Tuesday, Jordan said he's committed to maintaining a diverse workforce and continuing the airline's path to environmental sustainability.
"We are dedicated to 'doing well by doing good' through our commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the customers we serve, and by developing tangible steps toward an environmental sustainability goal that achieves carbon neutrality by 2050," Jordan wrote in the letter.
"We champion causes that matter most because we're more than an airline; we're your neighbors, and some of our most important work is done on the ground."
Southwest announced last summer that Jordan, who started working for the airliner as a programmer in 1988, would replace Gary Kelly as CEO. Jordan was formerly Southwest's executive vice president.
Jordan will lead the company's efforts to adapt to travel in the COVID-19 era. Earlier this year, the Omicron variant sickened crew members and forced Southwest and other carriers to cancel thousands of flights. Jordan told CNBC that Southwest has had to ground dozens of planes due to staffing shortages.
This year, Southwest has raised its minimum wage to $17 per hour in an effort to stabilize its workforce and plans to hire some 8,000 employees. Southwest and Jordan will also have to negotiate new union deals for pilots and flight attendants.
"Bob has been hard at work on the transition and is well-prepared to take on this important role," Kelly said in a statement last month. "I have the utmost confidence in Bob, our leadership team, and the people of Southwest to lead the company forward and execute a solid strategy."